Ring Cup final: Kildare shock Kingdom in thriller

June 07, 2014

Kerry's Sean Weir and Bernard Deay of Kildare during the 2014 Christy Ring Cup final at Croke Park.
Kildare 4-18
Kerry 2-22

Kildare have been crowned Christy Ring Cup champions for the first time after shocking Kerry in an epic final at Croke Park.

Brian Lawlor's Lilywhites rattled the Kingdom net four times to upset the odds and make amends for their defeat to Westmeath in 2007, which was their only previous appearance in the final. Ironically, the same two counties will meet again in seven days' time in the Liam MacCarthy Cup promotion / relegation decider.

In what was a wonderful advertisement for the second tier hurling championship, the lead changed hands several times before the underdogs finally got themselves into a winning position when Bernard Deay scored their fourth goal to give them a 4-13 to 2-17 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

Kerry, who had led by 2-10 to 2-9 at the break, were unable to find a way back after that as the Lilywhites held on for a famous victory.

The game started at a blistering pace with eight scores coming inside the first seven minutes. Bernard Deay gave the Lilywhites an early lead, only for Shane Nolan and Tadhg Flynn to reply with a quick brace for Kerry. It was level pegging again before Padraig Boyle grabbed the opening goal to leave the Kingdom 1-2 to 0-2 ahead with just four minutes played.

The Munster men's tails were now up as captain John Egan, Nolan and Boyle tagged on points to double their advantage, 1-5 to 0-2. But Kildare responded brilliantly with six unanswered points per Paul Divilly, Gerry Keegan, Deay and Martin Fitzgerald to regain parity by the 18th minute.

Points from Colm Harty and David Butler had Kerry back in front before Ray McLoughney left the minimum in it. Kildare then rocked the favourites with two goals in as many minutes. Goalkeeper Paul Dermody got the first from a penalty before Keegan added a second, with Harty pointing in between for Kerry.

So, after 28 minutes, it was 2-9 to 1-8 in Kildare's favour. But despite racking up eight first half wides, Kerry turned it around late in the half to take a slender lead into the break. A John Egan point was quickly followed by the equalising goal from Shane Nolan.

Another point from Thomas Casey left it a one-point game at the short whistle.

Harty and Fitzgerald traded points on the restart before McLoughney raised Kildare's third green flag to propel them into a 3-10 to 2-11 lead. Eamonn Kelly's charges were soon level, though, through efforts from Butler and Egan as Divilly and Egan traded further points.

It continued to be end-to-end as Bernard Deay edged the Lilywhites back in front, only for half-time sub John Griffin and Butler to restore Kerry's lead, 2-16 to 3-12.

Paul Divilly equalised before Griffin fired over his second to put Kerry back in front. But the game took a decisive turn in the winners' favour when Deay netted in the 55th minute. Keegan made it a three-point game before trading points with Daniel Collins.

Boyle and Nolan narrowed the gap before Keegan restored Kildare's three-point lead, 4-17 to 2-20, with six minutes to go. Divilly was on target again before Griffin left two in it.

But when Kerry sent a late '65' wide, the Leinster side could celebrate.

Kildare - P Dermody (1-0pen); N O Muineachain, F O Muineachain, J Doran; D Harney, R Hoban, E O'Neill; M Moloney, M Fitzgerald (0-2); P Divilly (0-7, 5f), R Kelly, B Deay (1-3); G Keegan (1-4), T Murphy, R McLoughney (1-2). Subs: M Delaney for R Kelly, J O'Malley for T Murphy.

Kerry - T Flynn (0-1f); D Fitzell, T Murnane, S Weir; B Murphy, D Dineen, T Casey (0-1); D O'Connell, D Collins (0-1); J Egan (0-4, 3f), S Nolan (1-4), C Harty (0-3); P Boyle (1-2), M Boyle, D Butler (0-3). Subs: J Griffin (0-3) for D Fitzell, B O'Leary for M Boyle, J Leahy for T Casey, J Casey for D Butler.

Referee - S Cleere.

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